"Magnetic" Cows Sense Earth's Magnetic Lines

Here's something that man, in thousands of years of farming and animal husbandry, has never noticed before - but thanks to Google Earth - now know: cows tend to face in the north-south direction of the Earth's magnetic lines!

Wind and time of day did not offer better explanations for why 8,510 cattle in 308 locations around the world would mostly face north-south. Shadows suggested that many of the images were taken on cloudless, sunny days, so Begall's group also factored in direct ground observations of cattle herds.

A strong wind or sunlight on a cold day have typically proved more the "exceptions to the rule" that might cause large animals to face away from magnetic north-south. [...]

Both cattle and deer faced a more magnetic north-south direction rather than geographic north-south, (Earth's magnetic poles do not line up perfectly with the North and South Poles).

Link

(Photo: Hynek Burda)


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In Hindu mythology Durga has a deer as vehicle. In the southern state of Kerala Durga temples are faced towards the north. Certainly her vehicle oriented towards the north, takes her to the north.
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I am sure farmers noticed how cows stand, as I've read live stock behavior has helped farmers predict weather and such throughout history. The main article even says that certain weather does effect the direction of cows, and clear weather is the best time to see them 'aligned'.

Maybe cows have direction-preference like people have hand-preferences...right handed people tend to prefer to go right (instead of left) in a store, something used against us in retail.

Or maybe they are herd animals, and it is a long-standing tradition for cows to stand in such 'alignment' on clear days. hahaha
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Or another reason is that orientating north-south can maximise solar radiation on their bodies i.e. east-west transverse of the sun!
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